‘Weird : The Al Yankovic Story’ Review: Daniel Radcliffe in Infectiously Silly Biopic Parody


A parody of rock biopics that celebrates its topic by utterly trashing the info of his life and profession, Eric Appel’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is relentlessly foolish, healthful at coronary heart and so filled with cameos it would provide the concept that a few generations of cool individuals love this man.

Co-written by the artist (who additionally costars as a fickle file exec), it’s a kindred spirit to his songs with out being so gag-hungry it forgets the best way to inform a narrative. Just like his music, it’s not for everyone, and to make sure, there will probably be few audiences as hungrily receptive because the one at its Midnight Madness Toronto premiere. But it introduced the home down right here, and needs to be a boon to the underdog Roku Channel when it arrives there in November.

Weird : The Al Yankovic Story

The Bottom Line

A fittingly faux (and humorous) biopic.

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival (Midnight Madness)
Release date: November 4 (The Roku Channel)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, Toby Huss, Arturo Castro, Julianne Nicholson
Director: Eric Appel
Screenwriters: Eric Appel, Al Yankovic

Finally making good on the fake film trailer he launched a dozen years in the past, TV director Appel’s characteristic is sort of precisely what the quick promised, lifting bits from it virtually verbatim. Aaron Paul performed the singer again then, serving to to promote the (completely invented) rock-star self-destructiveness the trailer hinted at; this time we get Daniel Radcliffe, whose sweetness makes Fake Al’s flip towards nasty habits funnier, sometimes even poignant.

As a boy, Al was like each different child. He saved shameful issues hidden below his mattress to be found by his nervous mom (Julianne Nicholson); he fell below the spell of a touring accordion salesman, incomes the wrath of his father. (Toby Huss makes a great humorless patriarch, disdaining the Devil’s squeezebox and, when his boy invents new phrases for a revered hymn, declaring, “what you’re doing is confusing and evil.”) It’s true that every one nice artwork is transgressive, and in return for alienating his previous man, Al would have all of it, as solely a polka parodist can. But we’re getting forward of ourselves right here. Let’s get again to the place it began, in faculty.

There, younger Alfred’s odd pursuits have been allowed to bear fruit. His three regular, cool-guy roommates inspired him to search out his personal means of expressing himself, and by chance helped him get began. One day, he’s making a sandwich for one among them as a brand new tune by The Knack comes on the radio. As the chorus “My Sharona” drills into his head, our hero stares at a package deal of Oscar Meyer like an ape gazing into interstellar obsidian. “My Bologna” is born.

Overnight success is a fable. For Al, it was a same-day phenomenon. He goes out to mail a do-it-yourself cassette of his tune to a DJ, and by the point he will get house it’s the most-requested tune on the town. Now he simply must develop a stay present, and appeal to the eye of a pun-loving mentor, the good Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson).

(For the uninitiated: Dr. Demento was an actual particular person, a DJ of novelty songs whose syndicated present was beloved by kids who didn’t perceive sports activities and thought that almost cursing in a tune was possibly the funniest factor ever. Evidently, a few of us grew as much as assume that almost cursing in a film is fairly humorous additionally. And he actually did introduce the world to “Weird” Al.)

The insanely hyperbolic success Al then finds could be the film’s self-effacing means of acknowledging how unlikely it was {that a} performer might make a lifelong profession working in, because the film places it, an especially particular style of music. Or possibly it’s simply an opportunity to traipse via the tropes that 2016’s Popstar and related comedies have mocked, this time with homespun allure. (“Traipse Through the Tropes” being a lesser-known Tiny Tim file from the ’70s.)

It seems that his parodies are larger hits than the songs they mock, and every time he releases one, gross sales of the unique tune undergo the roof as properly. Enter an opportunistic younger singer named Madonna. Evan Rachel Wood is a gum-smacking vixen right here, sashaying into Al’s life as Mads and making him consider they’re soulmates. She begins the teetotaler consuming, nurtures his interior prima donna and finally will get him combined up with Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro).

That final subplot will discover the hirsute accordionist remodeling first into John Wick, then into Rambo. But as a substitute of morphing into an anything-goes style sendup a la Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, Appel and Yankovic shortly get again to music, providing third-act familial surprises and the compulsory redemption narrative. Though it’s a tiny bit flabby in its second half, the film is aware of the best way to race offstage when it’s prepared, providing a real twist or two because it goes. It might not set the world on hearth, as “Eat It” did, however ‘Weird’ is a humorous, welcome reminder of a time earlier than the web and Marvel made being a nerd so unusual.


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